There’s this huge refugee crisis going on in Europe. People from Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan (among other countries) are escaping war and crushing poverty any way they can – often by foot or by overcrowded boat. Some are landing in Greece, up to 30 boats a day, having walked through Turkey. The countries they are coming to aren’t prepared and are reacting by putting up borders or posting guards. If there are refugee camps, they are sad states, with tents and no running water and one toilet for every 100 people.
The refugees are complaining, saying that they thought things would be better in Europe. They are saying that dogs live better than this. They are saying it is inhumane. They are complaining to any country that will listen.
Yet what can be done? The people have no money and no jobs. They aren’t legally immigrating. They have no passports or visas. Then they are expecting to be fed and housed for free, indefinitely. Countries such as Greece already have austerity measures for their own citizens – they don’t have extra for these people they didn’t expect.
Let’s think of it this way – If a hundred people show up at your doorstep and insist on coming in your house, but don’t have any money to buy their own food or any extra clothes, do you take them in? How long do they get to stay? If your house is big and you have a lot of extra money, this won’t hurt you much. But what if you are just making it as is? You don’t suddenly have more money because you have more people staying at your house. There will be less to go around. You didn’t invite these people, yet they are ungrateful that they are getting gruel to eat and have to share beds or sleep on the floor. They are complaining to the mayor and the governor.
Jesus says that we are to welcome the stranger. Jesus says that we are to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and clothe the naked. Jesus tells us that he is not of the world, and that we, as his followers will have otherworldly abilities through him. We are to do these things not out of our excess, but out of God’s excess.
Yet this all sounds like a fairy tale.
Jesus made food appear out of thin air. He fed 5000 people at one occasion, and 4000 people at another, with just a few loaves of bread and some fish. He wasn’t prepared – he didn’t even provide the fish or the bread. He used what was there and it became enough. We are supposed to follow his example, but it seems something has gotten lost in the translation. Over these 2000 years, we’ve not learned the trick of how to do this. We don’t know how to make food stretch and expand. We can’t heal by a touch or a word like he could either.
But maybe that is the problem. Maybe we can if we stop saying we can’t. Maybe we can if we stop getting upset that the church leaders didn’t teach us anything useful and kept it to themselves, and then forgot it because they kept the secret so well. They were so concerned about the secret getting out that they hid it even from themselves. Maybe there isn’t a secret. Maybe it is all about trusting.
Meanwhile, people are showing up. Last report I read said that 340,000 refugees had escaped their countries just this year. This is similar to the great exodus that happened in WW2. And Europe is finally coming to understand what America has been dealing with (or not dealing with) for years.